By Midou Grossmann – September 3, 2021
September – autumn is approaching – each day opera houses, and concert venues are rising from summer slumber and announce new activities. After a long silence, they just jump backwards. Business as usual is mostly the slogan. Nobody does mention that their full houses do exclude now some 30% of the population and these are mostly the healthy citizens. All so grotesque, but let’s look to some true genius of classical music of the past.
Leopold Stokowski, somehow known, somehow forgotten, was certainly one of the last great Maestro with a deep global and spiritual wisdom. Born in England of Polish origin, later a naturalized American citizen, educated at the Royal College in London, in Paris and in Munich, his influence on music was revolutionary. ( * 18. April 1882 in London, England; † 13. September 1977 in Nether Wallop, England. ) He conducted till the end of his life and was booked up to age 100 when he passed with 95. His entire life was dedicated to music and art and at the same time his quest for a spiritual concept of existence never left him. He did meditate and was initiated into the ancient technique of Kriya Yoga by Paramahansa Yogananda whom he often visited during his years in Southern California, together with Greta Garbo.
His book ‘Music for All of Us’ (1943) is most revealing and he even seems to be a visionary soul and does predict in the chapter ‘Music and World Culture’ that the world might come to a crossroad of choices:
“It is vital to find the way to balance suffering with intense joy – then life will be full and complete. Sometimes the interplay of suffering and joy, like shadow and sunshine, make a vibrant rich life out of which can grow the highest in art and music.
The music of the future cannot fail to be powerfully influenced by general world culture – and world culture by the degree of world unity. World conditions and all men will be faced by two possibilities. One, to continue with negative and destructive forces – a series of wars – each conflict preparing for the next. As these wars are no longer local, but world-wide, it is possible that they will in time destroy all the arts – all learning – all the institutions of science – the beautiful buildings of the past – the centers of culture. Even worse, they can destroy hope in the minds and hearts of men so that there will be no vision for the future – no illumination – but only despair.
The opposite possibility is constructive – positive – the whole world is co-operating in world unity. Gradually the evolution of thought and feeling will lead us to the conviction that competition and war are negative and destructive. We shall replace these with co-operation – positive, constructive, and creative thought. When this happens every form of art – all artists – every form of scientific knowledge, will be at the disposal of the whole world. Artists and scientists will travel freely so as to have intimate personal contact – in addition, the knowledge and discoveries of science as well as every form of art will be transmitted to all countries of the world through television and radio. Every gifted artist will be given the environment and time necessary to express what is in him. (…) The ambition which some have to become rich will be replaced by the desire for a high level of living, with free time to develop all our faculties – physical, mental, emotional, spiritual. Almost everyone will have the physique of an athlete – as it was in Greece. The race will be not for gold but self-development. The effort will be not for war but to preserve peace. Slums, disease, hunger will be like evil dreams of the past. (…) One of the highest forms of this creation will be music – more inspired – more thrilling – more beautiful – more dynamic then even the greatest music of the past. This music will be available of everyone in the world and will be one of the highest expressions of the world unity and world culture. “
(Simon and Schuster – New York – 1943)
What is totally forgotten nowadays is that the earth is like a human and does have two brain parts as well. The right part stands for art, inspiration, devotion, creativity, compassion. The left part works for economics, laws, business, organizations. When things get out of balance, danger starts to crawl in, which is the case now on the planet. Maybe we should hold on for a while, freeze all drama for 4 weeks and introspect. Nothing gone won’t come back, let’s create a better new world – now!
Copyright Midou Grossmann Sept. 2021